Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú
The government needs to "get a grip" and "take control" of the Covid 19 situation after a "disastrous fortnight of mixed messages and u-turns", says Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú.
The Dundalk deputy said parents and families had been "left scratching their heads" over the government approach to dealing with Covid 19 in the run-up to Christmas.
Deputy Ó Murchú said:
"The government has to show leadership and make decisions in a timely fashion, taking into account all the factors that they have been briefed on. Messages need to be crystal clear.
"Politicians were getting updates from news media rather than from Minister Stephen Donnelly. I, and others, have asked last week for more engagement with the Opposition.
"Schools were given less than 24 hours notice of a decision to have children aged nine and over wear masks in the classroom, while the same government stopped contract tracing in the same schools in September.
"I raised the schools issue with Minister Norma Foley at the Education Committee on Thursday and highlighted to her the messaging problem. She said there would be flexibility and common sense used, and I really hope this is the case.
"I also highlighted the fact that children with hearing difficulties will be finding mask wearing extra tough as they are unable to lipread their teachers or peers. Minister Foley said this would be taken on board.
"The government told people who were arriving into Ireland that they needed a PCR test from Friday morning, but this was delayed until Sunday, without passengers being aware.
"The government said there would be no PUP for those who would be out of work in the hospitality sector, but then decided to extend it.
"This is welcome, but this combined with necessary business supports for all those who will be impacted, is urgently needed.
"It has been a disastrous fortnight for the people of this State, wondering from hour to hour what the government is going to do next’.
The Louth TD said the government has "short-term fixes from week to week’" but government could have been "more long term" in their thinking.
"Covid 19 is confounding everyone, that is accepted", he says. "But the things that have worked before, the tried and tested mechanisms to beat it back, have been somehow forgotten by this government.
"Testing and tracing works, and it should be reinstated in schools. PCR testing works, and there should not be the inordinate delays in getting an appointment.
"Antigen testing works, and it should be free and accessible. Ventilation measures work, and schools should be funded to get them. Promises that have been made by the government, late in the day, on ventilation need to be delivered.
"And, as we have seen from other countries, booster vaccinations work, and this should be ramped up as much as possible in this State before Christmas.
"We should be in a better position than we are when it comes to booster vaccinations."
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